Tag Archives: Uganda

Calling the World to help save African Elephants


African Elephants


WildlifeDirect supports the African Elephant Coalition (AEC) in the call to the world to help save African elephants.

As an organization that has been in the forefront calling for a total ban on all ivory trade, WildlifeDirect urges other African countries not represented at the meeting held in Montreux, Switzerland from 24 to 26 June 2016 to join AEC in this call to save the our iconic species that are in danger of extinction if nothing is done.

In a press release by AEC, 29 member states call on all governments, inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations for their support, and calls on citizens around the world to ask their respective governments and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) representatives to support the five proposals and to help the Coalition in its mission to list all elephants in Appendix I.

The Coalition of 29 African member states submitted to CITES five proposals designed to reverse the poaching crisis facing elephants and to put an end to the ivory trade to afford elephants the highest protection under international law.

The five proposals are:

  1. Listing all elephants in CITES Appendix I
  1. Closure of domestic ivory markets
  1. Ivory stockpile destruction and management
  1. The Decision-Making Mechanism for a process of trade in ivory (DMM)
  1. Restricting trade in live elephants

AEC agreed to launch a social media campaign in a bid to gain support for the five proposals to the 17th Conference of the Parties (CoP17) of CITES in September-October in Johannesburg, South Africa. We invite you to use the hashtags #WorthMoreAlive, #EndIvoryTrade and #Vote4Elephants to support the campaign.

Speaking at the meeting in Montreux, Bourama Niagaté from Mali, a member of the Council of the Elders for the Coalition noted that there was need for all relevant stakeholders to pull together for the sake of Africa’s elephants.

Kenya, a member state of AEC has taken a zero tolerance approach to poaching and ivory trafficking.

In April this year, Kenya took a bold step in burning 105 tons of ivory and 1.5 tons of rhino horn. This is reportedly the world’s largest stockpile of elephant ivory and rhino horns ever to be burnt. The historic burn demonstrated Kenya’s commitment to seeking a total global ban of ivory and rhino horns.

Speaking at the burn, President Uhuru Kenyatta said, “by destroying ivory we declare once and for all that our national heritage is not for sale”. The only value that ivory has is tusks on a live elephant.

It is this commitment from the highest level of government and collaboration with conservationists and law enforcement that has seen Kenya achieve 80 percent reduction in deaths of elephants in the last three years.


You can download the Press Release Here

Outrageous! Ugandan court to release smuggled ivory

Conservation groups say the current poaching crisis is killing up to 25,000 elephants per year.

Photograph: Bobby Yip/Reuters

Photograph: Bobby Yip/Reuters

This outrageous news went unnoticed on the day when the Ugandan media was focused on the signing of a controversial anti-gay bill into law by Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni.

The Ugandan Revenue Authority (URA) had seized the ivory being smuggled through Uganda from the DR Congo on 17 October last year. Reportedly consisting of 832 individual pieces, the haul is gruesome evidence of the deaths of many hundreds of elephants and has a market value of several million dollars. According to the Ugandan authorities the culprits behind this heinous crime are Ugandan, Congolese and Kenyan, reflecting the international nature of wildlife crimes in Africa today. However following the confiscation of the material, the traffickers sought a court order to compel the URA to release the ivory, which they claimed had been imported legally. Despite the traffickers never putting an appearance in court, and there being no documentation confirming the ivory entering Uganda, high court judge Justice Musalu Musene ruled in their favour and ordered the ivory to be released for onward export.

In a press release today (26 February) Maria Mutagamba, Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, has expressed her shock at this ruling:

We are very dismayed by the said judgment and the likely implications it has for Uganda as a contracting party to CITES Convention [and] … most importantly the damage this has on tourism development and wildlife conservation in Uganda. A team of lawyers of the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and URA have already filed a notice of appeal to challenge the judgement. We shall decisively pursue the criminal prosecution of suspects (owners of the confiscated ivory) until they are brought to book. Security Agencies continue to pursue these suspects who are at large.

The minister called on all the organs of the state to proactively support government efforts to stamp out illegal wildlife trade and trafficking in order to conserve Uganda’s heritage and tourism aspirations which are essential for the social transformation of the economy

Meanwhile Charles Tumwesigye, the UWA’s Deputy Director of Conservation, has vowed the UWA will do everything possible to ensure this consignment does not leave Uganda’s borders.

This case contrasts with recent successes in Kenya, where traffickers have been successfully prosecuted and given hefty sentences. These successes reflect improved inter-agency collaboration and high-level political commitment to combat wildlife crime, as well as informed public awareness of the issue. It will take time to create these favourable conditions in Uganda. But this case is a flagrant violation of Uganda’s treaty obligations and the international community should make it clear that it will not be tolerated. CITES should be asked to impose sanctions on Uganda. This court’s decision undermines those Ugandan authorities, such as the UWA, that are seriously working to protect wildlife.


Illegal Ivory not to be returned to criminal – Statement by the Uganda Minister





We have received with shock; the ruling of Justice Wilson Masalu Musene that Uganda Revenue Authority should hand over confiscated ivory to their owners (criminal suspects who are on the run and have arrest warrants issued against them). The sector is in great shock over the ruling.

This case was filed by one Kayumba Emile Ogane against URA seeking orders for release of 832 pieces of Ivory confiscated by URA, that the Uganda Police, Uganda wildlife Authority and all other authorities in Uganda give effect to the release order.

Background to this case

On 17th October 2013, we received information from URA that a container with 832 Ivory had been discovered at Ken freight Inland Container Deposit (ICD) Bweyogerere. We immediately sent a team of law enforcement officers and wildlife experts from Uganda Wildlife Authority in company of police, who confirmed that the items were indeed ivory. The consignment was then taken to URA customs stores for safe custody pending the investigations of the matter and possible reprimand of the culprits.

The matter was accordingly reported to police for purposes of investigation to find the source of the ivory and to have the people involved arrested and prosecuted. The suspects identified by the preliminary findings were Owino Odhiambo (Kenyan national) and Kayumba Emille Ogane (Congolese national) who are still at large. The Chief Magistrates court at Kampala issued arrest warrants for the said suspects and the police and other security agencies are still searching for the whereabouts of these suspects for purposes of effecting arrest.

Offences committed by the suspects

Acquiring or having possession of prohibited goods contrary to Section 200(d)(i) of the East African Community Customs Management Act 2004, Being in illegal possession of wildlife protected species without permission contrary to the provisions of the Uganda wildlife Act.

Status of the Criminal case

The investigations were completed, the file was sanctioned for prosecution, an agent of Kayumba Ogane, one Ocaya David was arraigned before court for prosecution as an accomplice to the commission of these offences under this matter, but was released on bail.

The main suspects Owino Odhiambo (Kenyan national) and Kayumba Emille Ogane (Congolese national) are still at large and the police and other security agencies are looking for them including Interpol and LATF.

At national level, Uganda as sovereign State, prohibited any dealing in wildlife species and specimens without permission and specifically prohibits possession, trade, import, export, re-export and re-import of wildlife products and species including ivory.

Elephants are listed among the highly endangered wildlife species under the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species to which Uganda is party and bound by the resolutions. Any unauthorized trade in ivory and other related products is prohibited.

High Court Miscellaneous Cause No.49 of 2013 Kayumba Emile Ogane Vs Uganda Revenue Authority

As a ploy to defeat the efforts of the various agencies in investigating the illegal possession and purported transportation of illegal ivory, and to frustrate the prosecution of the offenders in the above case, the suspects through their lawyers decided to file the above suit seeking for unconditional release of the said ivory.

Hon. Justice Wilson Masalu Musene unfortunately agreed with the applicant that the ivory was unlawfully confiscated and ordered that the same be immediately released.

It is however very unfortunate and dismaying that such a ruling would be given with total disregard to the requirements of the law before such consignments can be allowed to transit which were never complied with.

It is also important to note that any import, export or re-export of wildlife species require clearance by the relevant countries Management and Scientific authority CITES which is the Ministry of Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities and Uganda Wildlife Authority respectively but which was never complied with. It is a legal requirement that any import, export or re-export of any wildlife species and or specimens through Uganda requires clearance by both Uganda Wildlife Authority and the Ministry of Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities which I represent.

The suspect concealed the said goods and never declared to URA at customs points and only disguised the same as coffee meant for export. If the ruling of the honorable Justice is implemented, it will contravene the law and will cause absurdity to conservation as it will be setting terrible precedent by giving poachers and illegal wildlife traders a blanket protection.


We are very dismayed by the said Judgment and the likely implications it has for Uganda as a contracting Party to CITES Convention. But most importantly, the damage this has on tourism development and wildlife conservation in Uganda. A team of lawyers of Uganda Wildlife Authority and Uganda Revenue Authority have already filed a notice of Appeal to challenge the Judgment Application for an interim order to stay execution of the judgment and filing of the appeal will also be immediately done. We shall decisively pursue the criminal prosecution of suspects (Owners of the confiscated ivory) until they are brought to book. Security Agencies continue to pursue these suspects who are at large. I want to call upon all the organs of the State to proactively support Government effort to stamp out illegal wildlife trade and trade and trafficking in order to conserve our heritage and its associated tourism development which is a vehicle for social transformation of our economy.


For God and My Country

Hon. Dr. Maria Mutagamba MINISTER

Hillary and Chelsea Clinton unveil $80m effort to fight illegal ivory trade


WildlifeDirect & Conservation Partners  Announce Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action:

Partnership to Save Africa’s Elephants

CEO Dr. Paula Kahumbu represents Kenya’s “Hands Off Our Elephants” Campaign in Meeting with Hillary & Chelsea Clinton

 Commitment’s Goal: Stop the Killing, Stop the Trafficking,Stop the Demand

 Commitment Makers include: Wildlife Conservation Society,African Wildlife Foundation, Conservation International, International Fund for Animal Welfare, and World Wildlife Fund

 Commitment Partners: African Parks Network, Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Frankfurt Zoological Society, Freeland Foundation, Howard Buffett Foundation, International Conservation Caucus Foundation, National Geographic, Save the Elephants, TRAFFIC, WildAid and WildlifeDirect

 Nations joining in commitment include: Botswana, Cote D’Ivoire, Gabon, Kenya, South Sudan, Malawi, and Uganda


NEW YORK (Sept. 26, 2013) – Conservation groups announced today a three-year $80 million Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Commitment to Action to stop the slaughter of Africa’s elephants, decimated due to poaching for ivory.  Dr. Paula Kahumbu, CEO of WildlifeDirect, met with former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her daughter Chelsea, of the Clinton Foundation. “We are proud to join forces with these two formidable women who are dedicating real commitment and power to this cause,” Kahumbu said; “It is notable that Hillary herself raised the issue of the connection between the slaughter of elephants and the slaughter of humans by terrorist groups who fund their attacks by this greed. I only regret that President and First Lady of Kenya could not be here because of the tragedy in Nairobi, but am proud Africa was well represented at this table.”

The Commitment Makers and their partners commit to funding and facilitating partnerships to advance a new three-pronged strategy that will catalyze a global movement to coordinate and leverage influence, constituencies, and resources to protect key elephant populations from poaching while reducing trafficking and demand for ivory. Funding for this commitment has been provided by myriad public and private sources, including U.S., European, and African governments; along with multi-lateral institutions, foundations, and concerned individuals. Nations joining in the commitment include: Botswana, Cote D’Ivoire, Gabon, Kenya, South Sudan, Malawi, and Uganda.

These funds will be used to support national governments to scale up anti-poaching enforcement at the 50 priority elephant sites including hiring and supporting an additional 3,100 park guards.  In addition, anti-trafficking efforts will be increased by strengthening intelligence networks and penalties for violations and adding training and sniffer dog teams at 10 key transit points.  New demand reduction efforts will be implemented in 10 consumer markets over the next three years.

 Further, leaders from African nations led a call for other countries to adopt trade moratoria on all commercial ivory imports, exports and domestic sales of ivory products until African elephant populations are no longer threatened by poaching.

The commitment was announced at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting underway in New York City. CGI’s 2013 theme, Mobilizing for Impact, explores ways that CGI members and member organizations can be more effective in leveraging individuals, partner organizations, and key resources in their commitment efforts.

Today’s announcement is the culmination of work by Secretary Clinton while serving as Secretary of State, as well as Clinton Foundation Vice Chair Chelsea Clinton’s engagement, who visited conservation sites on a trip with the Clinton Foundation to Africa this summer. Together, they have convened the NGO’s and nations to ensure rapid progress to a solution to prevent the extinction of Africa’s elephants and the proliferation of the violence caused by the criminal syndicates wiping out the elephants.

In addition to the funds already committed, the partnership urgently seeks additional partners to provide $70 million in financial or in-kind support over the next three years to reverse the decline of Africa’s elephants.

African elephants are being lost at an unprecedented rate, and the demand for ivory shows no decline. Tens of thousands of elephants are being killed illegally each year across Africa with some 35,000 lost in 2012 alone.

In addition to uniting national leaders and concerned groups and citizens, the commitment will focus attention on the national and global security implications of wildlife trafficking. As one of the world’s most lucrative criminal activities, valued at $7-10 billion annually, illegal wildlife trade ranks fifth globally in terms of value, behind the trafficking in drugs, people, oil and counterfeiting. Notorious extremist groups like the Lord’s Resistance Army, the janjaweed, and al-Shabaab poach ivory to fund terror operations.

Commitment Makers include: Wildlife Conservation Society, African Wildlife Foundation, Conservation International, International Fund for Animal Welfare, and World Wildlife Fund.

Commitment Partners are African Parks Network, Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Frankfurt Zoological Society, Freeland Foundation, Howard Buffett Foundation, International Conservation Caucus Foundation, National Geographic, Save the Elephants, TRAFFIC, WildAid and WildlifeDirect.

The commitment runs through 2016 and addresses the problem on three fronts: stop the killing; stop the trafficking; and stop the demand:

Stop the Killing: The Commitment will scale up “on the ground” anti-poaching enforcement in African range states to reduce the amount of illegally killed elephants to below 50 percent.

NGO partners will support government efforts to scale up law enforcement in and around 50 key protected areas in Africa that together harbor approximately 285,000 elephants, or some two-thirds of the entire African population. NGO partners pledge to support the anti-poaching efforts of over 5,000 park guards at these sites.  Partners project that this investment will reduce the average percentage of illegally killed elephants (PIKE) across these sites from 66 percent to 48 percent, with elephant population decline halted in about half of the 50 sites (PIKE less than 50 percent).  Thus this effort will take the commitment halfway to its ultimate goal, reversing the decline in Africa’s elephants.

Stop the Trafficking: Partner NGOs will support governments in identifying and implementing priority actions to combat trafficking in ivory.  A complimentary range of urgent actions will be used to strengthen enforcement capacity at ports and markets; increase intelligence-led crackdowns on illicit networks; secure ivory stockpiles, and reform laws and penalties can be tailored to rapidly reduce trafficking.

This commitment includes an African government led call for other countries to adopt trade moratoria on all commercial ivory imports, exports and domestic sales of ivory products until African elephant populations are no longer threatened by poaching. Government partners will initiate and support an African range state-led call to other range, transit and consumer countries to declare or restate domestic moratoria on all ivory and ivory product sales and purchases.

The partners commit to helping governments to reduce the number of large scale ivory shipments by 50 percent from 2011 baseline levels (the worst year on record for these ivory seizures) and extrapolating for changes in enforcement effort. In addition, the partners will work with governments to improve the potential detection and prosecution of illegal ivory trade by increasing the number of law enforcement officers and judiciary trained in Africa and Asia by 50 percent compared to 2011 levels by 2016.

Stop the Demand: The Commitment will target key consumer markets to increase awareness about poaching and illegal ivory trade, including generating 10 million actions taken via social media platforms to reduce ivory consumption and highlight the impact of ivory sales on the African elephant.

NGOs will use increased awareness to drive behavioral changes that will reduce consumption as well as result in “grassroots” political pressure on the governments of key consumer countries.  Partners will work together to reduce the demand for ivory among potential consumers by both increasing awareness of the issues and providing mechanisms for civil society to take action. Partners pledge to take action, both individually and collectively, to reduce the stated intention to purchase ivory by at least 25 percent in key markets by the end of 2016 as measured by market research conducted at regular intervals throughout the duration of the commitment. This will be achieved by producing awareness content/materials and improving penalties and prosecutions that will spur behavior change and/or online action in key consumer countries. To measure success, standardized, replicable, scalable public opinion polls and surveys will be conducted within priority consumer countries.

Wildlife Conservation Society President and CEO Cristián Samper said: “On behalf of all the NGO partners involved in this initiative, I’m proud to announce that the Wildlife Conservation Society and their partners commit to providing $80 million over the next year to protect elephant populations by stopping the killing of elephants, stopping the trafficking in ivory, and stopping the demand for ivory across the world. We thank the Clinton Global Initiative, Sec. Clinton and Clinton Foundation Vice Chair Chelsea Clinton for helping to convene all the partners and for their long-time dedication to end this crisis. I know, together, we can move beyond extinction stats to the solutions to save elephants.”

African Wildlife Foundation CEO Patrick Bergin said: “We cannot hope to reverse the dramatic decline in elephant populations in Africa without addressing all three parts of the problem: the poaching of elephants on the ground in Africa, the global trafficking of ivory, and the insatiable demand by consumers for ivory products. This joint Commitment to Action demonstrates how much the resolution of this crisis relies on the coordination of efforts by multiple parties, from conservation organizations to governments around the world. African Wildlife Foundation thanks the Clinton Global Initiative for providing all of us with an opportunity to elevate the visibility of this crisis, and we personally thank Sec. Clinton and Clinton Foundation Vice Chair Chelsea Clinton for shining a spotlight on Africa’s elephants.”

Conservation International’s Co-founder, Chairman and CEO, Peter Seligmann, said: “We applaud the Clinton Global Initiative for bringing this issue to the world stage, and greatly appreciate the deep and sustained personal involvement of Secretary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton, as well as that of our NGO, Foundation and government partners. Wildlife trafficking is directly connected to the global economy and security. It weakens ecosystems, fuels terrorist organizations, and threatens livelihoods. Conservation International is proud to be a part of this Commitment to Action, as it is in all of our enlightened self-interests to put an end to this deadly trade.”

Azzedine Downes, IFAW President and CEO, said:  “The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) committed to this partnership from the outset because it represents the kind of large-scale and strategic collaboration it will take to save African elephants.  Animal welfare and conservation organizations, range states and consumer countries, law enforcement and communities that live around the elephants—we all need to work together on a common plan if there is to be any hope of success.”

Carter Roberts, President & CEO of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said: “We know how to solve this crisis. What’s been missing is a united front from governments, NGOs and the private sector to scale up resources to stop the killing and crush the demand. Look at what has been done with conflict diamonds and fur from endangered species. The more people are aware of the consequences of what they buy, it changes what they do. We need to do the same with elephant ivory and rhino horn and tiger bone.  What person would buy these things if they knew they slaughtered the most magnificent animals in the world?  Because when people buy parts of these animals, they are contributing to the catastrophic killing taking place right now.”

Increasing consumer demand for ivory, particularly in Asia, is causing the price of ivory to skyrocket and is driving elephant poaching. Today’s ivory traffickers are primarily well-organized syndicates that operate as transnational criminal networks and often participate in other illegal activities, including trafficking in narcotics and weapons, and with links to terrorist networks. The poachers not only threaten the lives of elephants, but at least 1,000 park rangers have been killed in the line of duty over the past ten years, as they try to protect elephants and other wildlife.


About the Clinton Global Initiative
Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), an initiative of Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation, convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. CGI Annual Meetings have brought together more than 150 heads of state, 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs, major philanthropists, and members of the media. To date CGI members have made more than 2,300 commitments, which are already improving the lives of more than 400 million people in over 180 countries. When fully funded and implemented, these commitments will be valued at $73.5 billion. CGI also convenes CGI America, a meeting focused on collaborative solutions to economic recovery in the United States, and CGI University (CGI U), which brings together undergraduate and graduate students to address pressing challenges in their community or around the world, and, this year, CGI Latin America, which will bring together Latin American leaders to identify, harness, and strengthen ways to improve the livelihoods of people in Latin America and around the world. For more information, visit clintonglobalinitiative.org and follow us on Twitter @ClintonGlobal and Facebook at facebook.com/clintonglobalinitiative.


Hands Off says Transworld Safaris

We are extremely grateful to Sushil Chauhan and Transworld Safaris (Kenya) Ltd for their support and branding their fleet with the Hands Off Our Elephants stickers.

On vehicle up close

On vehicle up close



We look forward to seeing these stickers on more and more vehicles.



East Africa: How Did Ivory Seized in Kenya Worth Sh4 billion Enter From Uganda?

The Independent
19 July 2013

When Kenyan customs officers on July 8 confiscated about 3,500kgs of elephant ivory alleged to have been smuggled into the country from Uganda, the ministry of Wildlife and related organisations in Kampala reacted with unusual quiet.

There was nothing of the usual quickly assembled briefings to journalists over an incident that has obviously put the country on the spot. Instead Tourism Minister Maria Mutagamba and the Uganda Wildlife Authority Executive Director Andrew Seguya have, according to inside sources, opted to conduct a quiet internal investigation.

Among the lines being investigated is the assertion by Kenyan authorities that the ivory was from the so-called ‘big elephants’, which points to the Democratic Republic of Congo as the origin.

If the DR Congo was indeed the origin of the illicit cache, how did it clear through Uganda and end up in the Kenya port of Mombasa? Which officers, if any, on the Ugandan side were complicit in the smuggling racket?

There have been a series of ivory seizure in Kenya but the July 9 cache was the largest. The consignment was of some 770 pieces, hacked out of elephants.

Export documents showed that the ivory had come by vehicle from Uganda on 12 June.

The vehicle was then “parked” at a petrol station in Mombasa, until the consignment was brought into the port.

“The ivory was stashed in 69 bundles of several pieces and had been disguised as sun-dried fish,” said Paul Utodo, the Communications Manager of the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).

“Some bags had worked polished pieces of ivory, while others had raw ivory,” he added. Kenya Wildlife Service spokesman Paul Mbugua said the 3,287 kilogrammes of ivory were hidden in a shipment of groundnuts in Mombasa.

Some tusks were so big they weighed almost 60 Kgs which shows they were from really mature animals.

According to Mbugua, preliminary investigations by Kenya police point to the ivory being “packaged locally” in Kenya.

Earlier in July, another cache of ivory, weighing about 1,500kgs, was netted by Kenya police. It was hidden underneath dried fish to put the port sniffer dogs of the spoor. Both shipments were destined for Malaysia.

In January, KWS officials said that 3.8 tonnes of ivory were seized, also at Mombasa, apparently on transit from Tanzania to Indonesia. Ivory trade is banned under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

On July 12, a court in Arusha, Tanzania, charged a businessman with smuggling more than 1000 elephant ivory tusks.

SelemaniIsanzu Chasema, in his 50s, is believed to have exported 781 tusks through Malawi in May according to the prosecution. He denied the charges.

Poaching has risen sharply in Africa in recent years. Besides targeting rhinos, whole herds of elephants have been massacred for their ivory.

Inconclusive evidence

The illegal ivory trade, estimated to be worth between US$7 billion and US$10 billion a year, is mostly fuelled by demand in Asia and the Middle East, where elephant tusks and rhinoceros horns are used in traditional medicine and to make ornaments.

The value of the ivory seized on July 9 has not yet been determined, Udoto said, but the two tonnes of ivory seized in January were estimated to be worth US$1 million.

On his recent three-nation visit to Africa in June ending July, U.S. President Barack Obama signed an executive order launching a US$10 million bid to cut wildlife trafficking in Africa, with US$3 million in assistance earmarked for Kenya.

Akankwasah Barirega, the Prinicipal Wildlife Officer and acting spokesperson of the Uganda Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, the government is still investigating the origin of the  ivory seized in Kenya.

He says the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) together with the Nairobi-based Lusaka Agreement Taskforce–a regional group charged with controlling and eliminating the illegal trade in wildlife products are spearheading the investigation.

“We haven’t got conclusive evidence but we suspect the ivory came from Congo [Democratic Republic],” Akankwasah told The Independent on July 13. Although, the intercepted ivory’s origin is said to be Uganda, Akankwasah said, it cannot be from Ugandan elephants because the sheer volume confiscated would mean that Uganda remained without any elephants.

“We have about 4000 elephants in Uganda,” he said, “We are quite sure this ivory is not from our elephants.” However, he said the government is doing everything possible to stop Uganda’s territory acting as a transit route for the illicit trade in wildlife products.

Akankwasah said that beside the recent establishment of an intelligence and investigation department at UWA, they have also beefed up their surveillance at the border points by working closely with the Uganda Revenue Authority.

He added that an amended Uganda Wildlife Act which is aimed at making the penalty of trading in wildlife products more punitive will soon be tabled before Parliament to tackle the problem which has re-emerged across the continent.

He said the recent interception of the two containers of ivory in Kenya is part of a wider continental syndicate that stretches from Nigeria, through the Central African Republic, Congo, way up to South Africa.

Akankwasah noted that although most African countries had contained the problem about 10-20 years ago, the vice had made a come-back mainly because of the proliferation of wars in Congo.

“Congo is the biggest driver of illicit trade in endangered species products like ivory,” he said.

Late last year, game rangers in Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo alleged they had spotted a Ugandan military helicopter flying very low over the park, on an alleged unauthorised flight in an area where poachers had killed 22 elephants and carried off their treasured tusks.

In the most quoted report of the incident, from the U.S. newspaper The New York Times, the UPDF was portrayed with suspicion.

African Parks, the South Africa-based conservation organisation that manages Garamba, said it had photographs of the Ugandan military transport helicopter.

Then-Army and UPDF Spokesman, Col. Felix Kulayigye, told The Independent there was no evidence to prove the game rangers allegation.

Congo connection

He said it was not unusual for a UPDF chopper to fly over Garamba because that is the route the aircrafts of the Uganda army to Nzara and Obbo, where they are hunting the internationally wanted criminal warlord, Joseph Kony.

At the time, Ugandan media was awash with stories on the plight of elephants after the Uganda Wildlife Authority confirmed the September 2012 slaying by poachers of two elephants, including Baraka, a 40 year old male elephant believed to have been the oldest and most peaceful in Semliki wildlife reserve in western Uganda.

At the time, minister Mutagamba said a 2010 UWA large mammal census had revealed that the elephant numbers for Queen Elizabeth National Park had increased from 400 in 1988 to 2,959 in 2010. The minister praised the UPDF for supporting the Uganda Tourism Police to combat poaching.

In June 2012, 36 tusks were seized at the Entebbe airport in Uganda. Eighteen of the 22 elephants killed in Garamba in March were adults that had their ivory hacked out, which would usually mean 36 tusks.

Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army, the Islamic rebel militia al-Shabab and Darfur’s Janjaweed, are all accused of hunting down elephants and using the tusks to buy weapons and sustain their mayhem.

Organised crime syndicates are linking up with them to move the ivory around the world, exploiting turbulent states, porous borders and corrupt officials from sub-Saharan Africa to China, said a New York Times story that quoted law enforcement officials.

In 2011, the New York Times story said, poaching levels in Africa were at their highest since international monitors began keeping detailed records in 2002. It said worldwide, 38.8 tons (equaling the tusks from more than 4000 dead elephants), had been seized.

Uganda lost 25 elephants in 2011 and an investigations report by the Auditor General’s Office described the killings as the “worst ever reported scenario in a single conservation area, considering that Uganda was previously losing only 3 elephants annually.”

The smugglers are “Africa-based, Asian-run crime syndicates,” said Tom Milliken, director of the Elephant Trade Information System, an international ivory monitoring project, and “highly adaptive to law enforcement interventions, constantly changing trade routes and modus operandi.”

Conservationists say the mass kill-offs taking place across Africa may be as bad as, or worse than, those in the 1980s, when poachers killed more than half of Africa’s elephants before an international ban on the commercial ivory trade was put in place.

“We’re experiencing what is likely to be the greatest percentage loss of elephants in history,” said Richard G Ruggiero, an official with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

Some experts say the survival of the species is at stake, especially when many members of the African security services entrusted with protecting the animals are currently killing them.

Uganda: MPs Want Compensation for Families Killed By Animals From Parks

By John Odyek, New VIsion

21 July 2013

Members of Parliament representing people living near national parks have asked Government to compensate families of people killed by animals that escape from parks, protected areas and national forests.

While presenting a petition to Maria Mutagamba, minister of tourism, wildlife and heritage, on Friday Hatwib Katoto (Rubirizi) and Dr Chris Baryomunsi (Kinkizi East) said families near national parks live in constant fear of being killed by wild animals or losing their loved ones.

The MPs proposed that in case of death, Government should pay for burial expenses and also provide school fees for bereaved children. “We should have a people park approach. When people are killed by animals they should be compensated. People feel animals are better provided for than them. When a mountain gorilla dies more attention is paid to it than when an animal kills a person,” Katoto said at function which took place at the minister’s office at Farmers House, Kampala over the weekend .

Baryomunsi said when people try to chase off rampaging elephants and hippopotamuses they get angry, kill people and their domestic animals; destroy properties and crops in the ensuing fight. He also warned that the bad roads leading to the parks could affect tourism.

Jovah Kamateeka (Mitooma) said when animals destroy crops of communities living near parks and national forests they should be compensated. Kamateeka said some of the parks lack protective barriers which make it easy for animals to attack people and destroy crops.

The meeting was attended by officials from the Uganda Debt Network who recently concluded a study on the plight of people living near national parks and residents residing near Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Julius Kapwepwe, director of programmes Uganda Debt Network, said there is need for clear policy guidelines for revenue sharing between Uganda Wildlife Authority and communities living near parks. He said there should be accountability for the funds and public display of projects used by the funds.

Kapwepwe said the Batwa community feels marginalized. He said the Batwa were hunter gatherers who live in the parks but this lifestyle is being changed because of regulations that bar them from living in the national parks. “They need affirmative action in terms of health service, education, land and shelter,” he said.

Mutagamba promised that the Uganda Wildlife Act 2000 would be amended to provide for compensation for damages caused by wildlife. She said government was considering putting electrical fences, chain links around the parks to protect communities.

Article at the following link:

5 lions and 16 vultures poisoned in Uganda

FIVE lions and 16 vultures in the Queen Elizabeth National Park in western Uganda have died of suspected
poisoning, acting warden Nelson Guma said. The carcasses of three
lionesses and two males, formerly part of a pride of about 10, along the Kasenyi
track, were discovered about a kilometre from Hamukungu fish landing site on
Wednesday. Park rangers said one of the lionesses was pregnant. Guma
expressed the fear that more lions and wild animals like hyenas, which feed on
dead animals, could also be dead. Usually local people complain of the
wild animals eating their domestic animals, but Guma said there had been no such
case in the recent past.

“It is unfortunate that people with bad hearts poison the lions and end up killing more animals than intended,” he said.

Reports said two people were arrested near the area where the lions were
killed. The animals reportedly killed and ate six head of cattle two months ago.
Guma said he would investigate the claims. Rangers yesterday
retrieved the carcasses of the lions from the wilderness for examination. They
also recovered two dead head of cattle and two cow skins. A swarm of dead green
flies littered the area, indicating possible poisoning. Dr. Margaret
Drachiru, a veterinary doctor at the Uganda Wildlife Authority we took samples
for testing, said the animals could have died on Sunday. She added that
the two head of cattle were not killed by the lions, but were slaughtered and
placed there to trap the cats. According to Guma, lions are the biggest
tourist attraction in the Queen Elizabeth National Park. The dead lions
were the ones which tourists were sure to see at the park, which is said to hold
about 105 lions. The park covers Kyambura and Ishasha sectors. Experts,
using scientific methods, found 214 cats between 1999 and 2004 in Uganda. But
crude estimates put the number to about 745 across the country. It is believed
that the Queen Elizabeth park and the DR Congo hold up to 905 African lions.
Perceived as a threat to livestock and humans, lions are also hunted for
their skins and purported medicinal values. They are poisoned, shot, or speared
by locals. While lion populations in protected areas remain relatively
healthy, conservationists say without urgent measures, they may disappear as
their habitat is lost to deforestation and encroachers. For example, in
2006, about 10 lions were killed in the park in areas which were temporarily
occupied by the Basongora pastoralists who had been chased from the Virunga
National Park in eastern Congo. Uganda has 10 national parks. Lions are
also found in the Murchison Falls in Kidepo Park. Some are said to be in the
Semliki area in Toro. In Lake Mburo National Park, however, the lions
have become extinct. The Uganda Wildlife Authority has put in place
various interventions, including sensitising communities around the parks in an
attempt to save the big cats.

This story was published in Uganda’s New Vision Newspaper and can be found at “http://www.newvision.co.ug/D/8/12/720148

Experts Conclude that Bushmeat is a Menace to East African Wildlife

Researchers and conservationists from Kenya , Tanzania, Uganda and Southern Sudan concluded on 8 December 2009 that bushmeat was indeed one of the major threats to wildlife and peoples livelihoods. The experts, who had gathered for a two day workshop in Kampala, Uganda concluded that unless efforts are taken to eradicate this problem, then wildlife and peoples livelihoods would suffer.

dik-dik meat

In a press release issued by the Bushmeat-free East Africa Network (BEAN), an offshoot of the US Fish and Wildlife-sponsored  MENTOR Program, Communications Officer Iregi Mwenja said:

Despite the best efforts of governments, NGOs, the private sector and local communities to address threats to wildlife and their habitats, these threats continue and in some cases increase.


Mwenja, who says that addressing the bushmeat menace effectively requires partnerships that coordinate alternative livelihoods and protein development, increased bushmeat awareness and strengthened law enforcement and policy, feels that a network that seeks to establish consensus, identify gaps in knowledge, build awareness, improve capacity, and increase resources and dedicated action in the region on the bushmeat issue can provide this coordination.

Such a network is exemplified by the newly-formed Bushmeat-free Eastern Africa Network (BEAN) which by bringing together expertise on the bushmeat issue in a centralized network and providing support and coordination to ongoing conservation and development efforts, can help meet wildlife conservation goals.

“The partners of BEAN also plan to engage and share learning with other networks and programs working on this issue throughout Africa and other regions of the world,” he adds.

Iregi Mwenja can be reached for comments and interview on telephone  +254723713642 or via email: [email protected]

South Africa’s Problem with 3,000 Canned Hunting Lions

Recently, as is usually the case, a passionate discussion erupted here at Baraza following a post about Uganda’s sport hunting plan. While I believe that Uganda’s plan to get into sport hunting is unwise, not all agreed with me. Although the ‘to hunt or not to hunt’ debate is not anywhere near the end, when a new voice comes in, a new view emerges. Most of the time, this new view continues to discredit this barbaric and unnecessary so called ‘sport’.

Lion in Kenya
A lion in Kenya (photo courtesy of Ewaso Lions)

Some time ago, an article appeared on Bloomberg.com showing the dilemma that South Africa has found itself in after a court ruling more or less banned canned the so called hunting. Now they are grappling with some 3,000 odd lions that have been bred in captivity for the sole purpose of being shot by foreign tourists at the price of  $22,000 per lion. As Mike Cohen writes on Blomberg:

“Lions bred for hunting are often shot after just a few days in the wild. In captivity they are mostly fed on donkey meat bought from rural communities. After their release from breeding cages they catch and eat game that the farmers have acquired for their estates.”

This case exposes one of the hidden vices of sport hunting – canned hunting – a cruel and mindless practice that should never have seen the light of day.

When the sport hunting becomes popular in Uganda for instance, the chances are that many ranchers will want to convert their land into wildlife producing factories where, say, lions can be bred for shooting or antelopes can be bred for feeding the lions. Eventually, someone will challenge canned hunting in Uganda and they will find themselves in the same situation that South Africa is in presently.

Kenyans are currently bothered by there being only 2,100 lions in the country and that if they continue losing the lions at the current rate of 100 lions a year, they will have no lions in 20 years. South Africa on the other hand has more lions than Kenya but they are hunting them at a higher rate, and Tanzania is even worse. Cohen says

More than 300 lions are hunted in South Africa every year, with trophy hunters coming from countries including the U.S., Russia and Spain. That makes South Africa the second-biggest destination for lion hunting after Tanzania, where wild lions are shot. About 1,000 lions are hunted each year in Africa. 

You should note that South Africa has not stopped hunting of lions. Only canned hunting – which more or leas means the captive breeding of lions for the sole purpose of being shot – has been made illegal by the court of law. Of course, the greedy business people who make millions from this ugly business have appealed to have the court ruling overturned. What did you expect?

They are even using the prospects of losing some 5,000 jobs as a reason why canned hunting should be reinstated. They even have an association for that. Cohen writes:

The South African Predator Breeders Association has warned that the judgment may shut an industry that employs 5,000 people because farmers can’t afford to keep lions on their estates for long periods of time due to the cost of the antelopes they would eat. It also argued that the lions may need to be euthanized as the legislation reduced their commercial value.  

Let’s see how the court handles this.